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Various Artists – The Endless Coloured Ways: The Songs of Nick Drake Review

Various artists. What a way to dunk on those still using an iPod Shuffle. For those making tracks and finding their way to The Endless Coloured Ways, a collection of Nick Drake songs and covers, they will be apoplectic with rage. Do not worry too much, though. These various artists are of the finest calibre and include relevant names, up-and-comers and those influenced by the late and great artist whose work has touched and supported some of the biggest names we now listen to. The Endless Coloured Ways is a way of giving back to the Pink Moon legend. Massive compilations like this are, of course, set to feature a few butchered tracks, a couple of strangely intended pieces. The Endless Coloured Ways is stuffed full of them. 

Unique takes on tracks from a great artist – the line between tribute and cover is blurred. Fontaines D.C. open it all with Cello Song, an apt enough track which made for good listening on delayed trains to and from Newcastle. In its isolated state, it worked well. Now collected as part of a record listened to in a flat where the heating is never on in the harsher, colder months, it still works, though more for its instrumental. Camille’s follow-up, Hazy Jane II, is neat enough. The Endless Coloured Ways soon becomes a project where you can pick and choose the artists you hope to hear more from. It becomes less a collection for Drake and more a CV for artists you may be aware of, but not in touch with.  

Note the names of Mike Lindsay and Guy Garvey. They come out strong with Saturday Sun and the harsh distortion which accompanies their tender displays. A nice balance between the two is struck and brings out the best in The Endless Coloured Ways. But those tonal contrasts are the driving force of this piece which never picks up as the likes of AURORA, Katherine Priddy and Philip Selway all lend tonally different designs. Let’s Eat Grandma are given From The Morning, where the title of this compendium is derived. A neat flourish for their vocal strengths – and like many of these failing to fit in with a smorgasbord of differing opinions and ideas. It may be the purpose of The Endless Coloured Ways, but it proves fitful and disappointing at times.  

When searching for those best influenced by the likes of Drake, Bob Dylan, Donovan and those of this cloth – it would be rather apt to gather those in a similar genre. Or, at the very least, those who find themselves on a level of similar scope, importance or objective. Bombay Bicycle Club are not a great match. Craig Armstrong and Nadia Reid are worth giving a listen, as is I Think They’re Leaving Me Behind from Priddy. The Endless Coloured Ways is an exercise in patience. Sitting around and waiting for the next track of interest – who knows where it could come from? A lucky dip of tracks where half are sour and the other half makes you hope for more original work from those worth keeping a tab on.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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